Skip to main content

Full text of "An ex-slaveholders view of the Negro question in the South"

See other formats





Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2011 with funding from 

LYRASIS members and Sloan Foundation 

An Ex-Slaveholder's View 
of the Negro Question 
in the South <& ^ <& <& 



Reproduced by permission from the 

European Edition of Harper's Monthly Magazine 

for July, J900 

H ortW Carolina State Library 





Superintendent of The Bingham School, 
Asheville, N. C. 

With the Compliments of the Author. 

Reproduced by permission from the 
European Edition of Harper's Monthly Magazine 

For Tuly, 1900. 


An Ex-Slave Holder's View of the Negro Ques- 
tion in the South. 

Heretofore the Race Question in the United States has 
been local, sectional and more or less sentimental. But now 
it is one of the most important National questions before us; 
and the necessity of dealing not only with the Black man 
and with the remnant of the Red man in continental Amer- 
ica, but with the Hawaiian, the Japanese, the Chinaman 
and the Philippino in our new Pacific Islands and with the 
mixed races in our new West Indian Islands, makes it a 
highly important question. 

That ' ' History is philosophy teaching by example " is a 
saying as old as Cicero. Let us look at the history of our 
contact with other races dispassionately and take lessons 
calmly for our future from what has occurred in our past. 

I suppose that Gail Hamilton's contention will be admit- 
ted that ' l If God made the white man white, the yellow 
man yellow, and the black man black, He intended for the 
white man to remain white, the yellow man yellow and the 
black man black." He prevents the loss of species in the 
lower animals by the infecundity of hybrids. He seems to 
have protected the integrity of race types among men by 
Race Antagonism. At any rate race antagonism is a patent 
and a potent factor which must be reckoned with in any 
philosophical study of history; and the effect, of race antag- 
onism, visible everywhere and always whenever different 
races come into contact, is no where more visible than in 
the contact of our race with other races. 

What our race-history was in prehistoric times we can 
only guess at; but History teaches that the Roman, who 
subjugated and absorbed so many other races, failed in all 
his attempts on the Teuton, and Augustus on his death bed 
said with tears to Varus, who had been sent to subjugate Ger- 
many, " O Varus, my legions, my legions, where are my 
legions?" And History teaches very clearly that the race 
characteristics of the Angles and Saxons are more distinct 
and more permanent than those of any other of Teutonic 
tribes who overwhelmed the Roman Empire. The other 
Teutonic invaders of Southern and Western Europe lost 
their language and much of their race identity and were 
themselves absorbed, or were at least greatly modified, by 
their subjects. They failed to change the names even of 
the countries which they overran. Grsecia remains Greece, 
Italia is Italy, Hispania is Spain; and though the Franks 
changed the name of Gallia to France, they lost their lan- 
guage and race identity so completely and were so thor- 
oughly Latinized that the French are the head of the Latin 
races to-day. And the Latinized Franks who went to Eng- 
land with William the Norman lost their language and iden- 
tity a second time at the hands of the English. But the 
Angles and Saxons who landed with Hengist and Horsa in 
449 changed Britain to Angle-Land, and it has been Eng- 
land ever since. They touched the Celt, and in a hundred 
years there were no Celts except in the mountains of Wales 
and in the mountains of Scotland. The Norman touched 
them, and the Norman was absorbed and his identity disap- 

peared. They came in contact with the Red man in Amer- 
ica; and, as the Celt vanished away at the touch of the bar- 
barian Angles and Saxons, so the Red man vanished away 
at the touch of their descendants, the Christianized Anglo- 
Americans. This same man touched the Frenchman from 
the mouth of the St. Lawrence to the mouth of the Missis- 
sippi, and the Frenchman's power in that vast region is with 
last year's snow, and what was once French America is now 
the heart of Anglo-American civilization and power. And 
during our Civil War the Frenchman undertook to establish 
himself on this Continent again; but just after the end of 
our war the Frenchman was ordered out of Mexico by the 
United States Government, and " stood not on the order of 
his going" — and the would-be Emperor Maximilian, no 
longer supported by French bayonets, was shot as a usurper 
in June 1867. The Yellow man touched the Anglo- Amer- 
ican and has been excluded, more by the unwritten law of 
race hostility and race antagonism than by any formal acts 
of Congress. And the Anglo-American has just touched 
the Spaniard and the Spaniard has vanished from this Hem- 

So as a matter of simple fact, our contact with the Black 
man in the South is the only instance in the history of our 
race where any population of Anglo-Saxon blood has dealt 
successfully with another race on the same soil in about equal 
numbers. The English have dealt successfully with the 
Negro in the English West Indies. But the numbers in- 
volved are comparatively small and the disparity between 
whites and blacks is much greater than in the South. The 
English in Egypt and in India are the official class, the soil 
remaining in the hands of the subject races. In many of 
the English Colonies the Aborigines have met the fate of 
the Red man in North America, while in South Africa the 
English and the Dutch are in deadly conflict for the mas- 

Those who look at the matter only in a sentimental way 
may say that, although the negro, in the South survived, he 
survived as a slave and that existence in slavery is scarcely 
existence at all. But early in the Century there was a deep 
and strong movement among the slave owners against hold- 
ing slaves; and but for the agitation inaugurated by the 
abolitionists, some scheme for the gradual emancipation of 
the negro would in all probability have been worked out, 
and this might have settled the negro question peaceably. 
My father thought of going to Ohio in the '20s to be re- 
lieved of the burden and responsibility of slaves; but he 
found the condition of the African in the North West worse 
than in slavery. Every bod} 7 in the South knew that the con- 
dition of the ante-bellum free negro among us was worse 
than that of the slave, though the free negro had the right 
of suffrage in North Carolina till 1835. My father offered 
his nurse her freedom and support for a term of years in Li- 
beria and she declined the offer. Many of the slaveholders 
in the South felt as my father did, and a bill for the gradual 
emancipation of the slaves failed to pass the Legislature of 
Virginia in the early '30s by only onk VOTK. 

It is safe to say that we of the South dealt more success- 
fully with the negro up to '65, when he was taken from our 
hands, than our race has ever dealt with any other race on 
the same soil since the dawn of history. He came into our 

hands from over seas, by the action of the people of New 
England chiefly, not by our own, as we did not own a single 
ship. He was a savage of a low type, and in some cases at 
least he was a cannibal. One of the most respectable and 
trustworthy negroes I know, a man of about 65, told me 
that his grandmother, who came direct from Africa, had 
told him as a boy that she had seen her people engaged in a 
cannibal feast before she was put 011 a ship and taken away 
from home. 

Under our treatment this savage was so developed in the 
arts of civilization in a little more than a century that he 
was deemed worthy by the people of the North to share 
with them in the citizenship of the Great Republic; and this 
boon, which was given by law to every adult negro male in 
the South, is still denied to illiterates of our own race in 
New England; and in this year of grace 1900 it has been 
denied to illiterate Brown men and Yellow men in the new 
Territory of Hawaii by act of a Republican Congress, ap- 
proved by a Republican President. 

As the negro advanced so rapidly under our tutelage, it 
may be well for those whose ancestors united with ours in 
exterminating the Celt in England and the Red man 
in America, who have excluded the Yellow man, 
who have not succeeded with the Black man since they took 
charge of him in '65 as well as we had done before '65, and 
on whose success with the Brown man judgment must be 
suspended, it may be well for the people of the North to 
take our diagnosis of the case of the negro into careful con- 

And it may be w 7 ell for the people of the North to realize 
that in the nature of things we are better qualified to make 
a correct diagnosis of the negro's case and to treat it intel- 
ligently than they are. In the whole North only one-sixti- 
eth (1-60) of the people are of African blood; and there are 
many people in the North who never saw a negro in their 

But in the South as a whole, one- third- (}i) of the people 
are of African blood; in several of the former slave states 
three-fifths (3-5) of the people are of African blood; and 
there are localities in all the former slave states where nine- 
tenths (9-10) of the people are of African blood, and it can 
hardly be denied that those who have dealt with only a very 
weak solution of a thing and who in many cases have never 
dealt with it at all, are less competent to judge it intelli- 
gently than those who have dealt with a saturated solution 
of it, so to speak, all their lives. 

There is one proposition to which every intelligent man 
in the South, whether of Northern or Southern birth, will 
give hearty assent; and many Northern people who have 
never been in the South are being brought to the same con- 
clusion by the. logic of events. This proposition is that a 
great mistake was made against the negro by arming him 
with the ballot while he was still an intellectual, 
moral and political infant. We are Teutons, God's 
kings of men. But every step towards the highest 
freedom was won in the best blood of our race. We 
freed ourselves from feudal vassalage to the Plantagenets 
and established the principles of the Magna Charta in blood. 
We freed ourselves from ecclesiastical vassalage to a foreign 
potentate under the Tudors and established the Church of 

England instead of the Church of Rome in blood. We freed 
ourselves from domestic ecclesiastical vassalage under the 
Stuarts and established the principles of the Bill of Rights 
in blood. We freed ourselves from the vassalage of taxa- 
tion without representation under the house of Brunswick 
and established the principles of the DecIaratio?i of Indepen- 
dence in blood. We obtained manhood suffrage at great 
cost in moil and toil and blood and after many centuries of 
preparation for it. 

Thomas Jefferson, the great apostle of Democracy, said 

"lam certain that the negroes will be free, and I am" 
' ' equally certain that they can never live on the same ' ' 
1 ' soil on terms of political equality with the whites. ' ' 

Abraham Lincoln, the great apostle of Republicanism, in 
a speech delivered in Charleston, Illinois, on the 18th of 
September, 1858, said as follows : 

' ' I will say that I am not nor ever have been in favor 
' ' of bringing about in any way the social and political 
" equality of the white and black races; that I am not nor 
" ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of 
" negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office nor to in- 
" termarry with white people; and I will say in addition 
' ' to this that there is a physical difference between the 
' ' white and black races which will forever forbid the two 
' ' races living together on terms of social and political 
"equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while 
" they do remain together, there must be the position of 
" superior and inferior; and I, as much as any other man, 
' ' am in favor of having the superior position assigned to 
" the white race." 

And we of the South believe that some plan of gradual 
enfranchisement on the educational basis which is demanded 
of white men in Massachusetts, or on the combined educa- 
tional and property basis which is demanded of white men 
in Rhode Island, would have been adopted if President Lin- 
coln had been spared. And nothing could have stimulated 
the illiterate negro and the illiterate white man as much as 
making the right of suffrage a prize to be won by an educa- 
tional qualification. 

But this great opportunity was thrown away; and in the 
face of our own race's having attained manhood suffrage 
only after centuries of preparation for it and at great cost 
in moil and toil and blood, in face of the condemnation of 
such a course by our greatest political leaders, including 
Abraham Lincoln himself, in the face of the fact that man- 
hood suffrage is still denied to illiterates of our own race in 
New England, in the face of all these facts this great boon 
was given to the negro without moil or toil on his part, with- 
out his having shed a drop of his own blood organized to at- 
tain it, and so, entirely without preparation for it. And it 
was done, not for the benefit of the negro, but as a move on 
the chess-board of party politics, and the party making the 
move has been checkmated in ten states ever since. And 
as suffrage has wrought evil and only evil to the negro ever 
since, and that continually, we believe that perhaps the best 
thing is to accompany it with the same sort of educational 
qualification which accompanies its enjoyment by our race 
in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island, and which 
is demanded of brown men and of yellow men in our new 

territory of Hawaii. In this way, if in any way, the evils 
which threaten the negro may be averted. 

The people of the United States seem to be only beginning 
to realize that the War between the States was more a Race 
War than anything else, not of Saxon against Saxon, but 
of the free laborer of the North against the slave laborer of 
the South, who, by a strange set of conditions, not of the 
white man's own choosing, was protected by six million 
men of Anglo Saxon blood. The contest began, not for the 
purpose of freeing the negro, but for the purpose of exclud- 
ing slave labor from the Territories, lest competition against 
the white laborer in localities up to that time not occupied 
at all should be inaugurated. It is well known that the ne- 
gro is not tolerated by the farm laborer, mechanic, miner, 
railroad employee, or by any other handi-craftsman in any 
Northern or Western state as he is tolerated as yet every 
where in the South to-day; and it was largely the handi- 
craftsmen of the great North West who settled the question 
at the point of the bayonet against slave labor, though pro- 
tected by the men of the Anglo-Saxon blood in the South. 
No laborer of any race, and least of all no negro laborer, 
has ever been met on the border of a Southern state, as the 
negro was met on the border of Illinois recently, with bul- 
let and bayonet; nor has the Governor of any Southern state 
threatened peaceable laborers with Gatling guns as 
Governor Tanner, of President Lincoln's own state and a 
member of President Lincoln's own political party, threatened 
peaceable negro miners going from Alabama to seek work 
in Illinois, nor to this day has a finger been raised to bring 
these murderers of negro miners to justice. And this race 
antagonism, which exists everywhere and among all races, 
and no where perhaps more strongly than among the white 
laborers of the North West againt the negro, must be met 
successfully by the negro if he is to survive, and every 
thing which tends to stimulate race antagonism must be 

But not only must race antagonism, existing everywhere, 
be met by the negro, but as a free man he has become the 
competitor of the white laborer in many fields of activity not 
occupied by him on his own account as a slave. He has become 
a carpenter, blacksmith, brick mason, shoe-makers, etc., on 
his own account; he has become a contractor and builder, a 
merchant, a livery stable keeper, a restaurant keeper, 
a mail carrier and a mail contractor; he has in some 
cases become a banker, a lawyer, a doctor; and in 
all these occupations and in others not named, he 
underbids the white man. This does not tend to 
improve the relations between the races. And the 
white laborer is taking the places vacated by the negro, 
so that the competition is both upward and downward. In 
these days of sharp competition between laborers of the 
same race, leading sometimes to bloodshed, racial differ- 
ences are greatly emphasized. And this industrial compe- 
tition must be reckoned with by the negro, who, being 
no longer protected by the Southern white man, must meet 
it in his own name and by his own innate power. And can 
the negro meet this competition successfully against a 
race which has exterminated the Celt and the Red man, 
which has excluded the Yellow man, and which has driven 
the Frenchman and the Spaniard off the North American 

And not only must race antagonism and Industrial antag- 
onism be met by the emancipated negro, but his being 
armed with the ballot has added political antagonism to his 
other difficulties; and this political antagonism is the more 
dangerous to him because it has weakened the feeling of the 
former slave-owner and his children toward him, and it is 
hardening the hearts of the non-slaveholding class against 
him more and more year by year. I believe that in the his- 
tory of the whole world there never were as kindly rela- 
tions existing between two races on the same soil as be- 
tween the slave owner and the slave in the South before the 
Civil War, and nothing vindicates these kindly, and in many 
cases these tender relations so clearty, or falsifies the pre- 
conceived opinions of many Northern people on the subject 
so clearly as the confidence with which the white 
men of the South left their women and children to 
the protection of the negroes during the Civil War and the 
unexampled faithfulness with which the negroes discharged 
this trust; and we, who passed through these trying times 
can not forget this, their only redeeming feature, and we 
teach our children never to forget it. I have always loved 
the negro and I shall never cease to love him. My father 
and mother reared seven children in a slave woman's lap. 
She loved us better than her life. We loved her next to 
our parents, and I look with a sort of yearning pity on 
my grandchildren, because they can never know the love of 
a " black mammy." And I am sure that this kindly feel- 
ing between the out going generation of slave owners and 
of slaves is mutual. When the negro wants work, he comes 
to us for employment. When he is hungry, he comes to us 
still for food. When he is naked, he comes to us for cloth- 
ing. When he is in trouble, he comes to us for counsel. 
When he wishes to buy a little piece of land so that he may 
own a home of his own, he comes to us to "stand for him." 
When his child is sick, he comes to us for medicine, and 
when it dies, he comes to us to help him buy its coffin. 
But when the election comes on, he does not come to us, 
but goes to our political opponent and his political master 
and gets his orders how to vote and a dollar or two perhaps 
in addition and often nothing but promises, accompanied by 
assurances that we want to put him back into slavery, and 
with this all connection between him and his political master 
ends till the next election. 

Such persistent political hostility of employee against em- 
ployer would hardly be tolerated by the property holders in 
any Northern state ; it has become wearisome to the ex-slave 
holders, it is exasperating to their sons and grandsons, and 
it is intensifying the as yet suppressed race hostility of the 
non-slave holding class year by year. 

So that friends of the negro must reckon with race antag- 
onism, stimulated by industrial antagonism and inflamed by 
political antagonism. 

Now when two races occupy the same soil, the voice of 
history is clear as to the three possible solutions of the race 

I. The races must amalgamate: 
II. The stronger race must reduce the weaker race to 
slavery or at least to political subjection: 
III. The weaker race must cease to exist. 

( i . ) In this case amalgamation cannot be thought of. 
The man of Anglo-Saxon blood has never amalgamated 
with inferior races as the Latin races have done in Central 
and South America for instance. He may mix his blood 
individually with that of an inferior race; but any offspring 
belongs distinctly to the mother's race and not to the sire's. 
And any female of Anglo Saxon blood forfeits her race iden- 
tity even by a legal marriage. with a man of an inferior race. 
There is no middle ground socially between the white man 
and the black man in the South, and there can be none un- 
less the flood of years shall deposit a middle ground from 
its current as the Nile or the Mississippi deposits its delta 
fr6m its own waters. 

(2.) Slavery is a thing of the past. It lasted in the 
South as long perhaps as it was beneficial to the weaker 
race, and as long as the stronger race could stand it and re- 
main strong; and as I know the slave-owning class no one 
of them would undertake to bear the white man's burden of 
the African again for any consideration. 

(3.) The history of other races in general and of the 
English speaking race in particular makes it necessary for 
the friends of the negro to reckon distinctly with the ques- 
tion of his gradual extinction, if he is to avoid the fate 
which the Celt and the Indian have already met at the 
hands of our race, and towards which our dealings with the 
Yellow man on our own soil and with the Brown man on 
his own soil seem to point ominously. 

Various solutions of the Negro question have been sug- 
gested, no one of which seems likely to be as successful as 
its advocates expect, though each will have its effect in the 
ultimate result, whatever that may be. 

Education in books has been suggested, and has been on 
trial since '65. Many Northern people, who have looked at 
the negro only through a telescope or through the smoked 
glass of their own preconceived opinions, differ materially 
from us, who have seen him eye to eye and under the micro- 
scope, and seem to think that he is an Anglo-Saxon in a 
black skin and that he needs only some book learning to 
relieve him of his African disabilities; and we of the South, 
whether wisely or unwisely, determined to give this method 
a fair trial. And so, according to the Report of Dr. Harris, 
Commissioner of Education, 1896- '97, Vol. 2, p. 2296, 
the South, of its own volition, has spent a hundred million 
dollars of tax money on the education of the negro since 
1870, and according to the estimate of the Rev. Dr. A. D. 
Mayo, in his address at Normal, Ala., of May 29, '99, p. 7, 
lines 25, 26, 27, the North and the Nation have expended an 
equal amount on him for the same purpose since 1861. But 
despite this vast expenditure of money on his education in 
books, he is only an African man still; and the criminal sta- 
tistics hereinafter mentioned are unfavorable to any expec- 
tation of his rapid intellectual or moral development. 

Industrial Training has been suggested and it is being 
pressed in some quarters as the most hopeful thing for the 
negro. But industrial training, though doubtless beneficial 
in many individual cases, will hardly do as much for the 
race as some of its advocates expect, for two reasons: 1st., 
the negro lacks mechanical talent, as is shown by the fact 
that while he has been working with tools for more than a 
century in the United States, there seems to be no record of 

any successful mechanical device of his invention; and 2nd, 
because industrial training will only sharpen the already 
existing industrial competition and race antagonism. 

Colonization in Africa or elsewhere has been suggested as 
a possible solution of the negro problem, and it may have 
some results. But our experiment in Liberia, and the ex- 
periment of the English in Sierra Leone, with small num- 
bers and under favorable conditions, have not been success- 
ful. The colonization of eight million people is a physical 
and a financial impossibility, even if they wished to be colo- 
nized, and the negro has not the slightest notion of being 
colonized. Moreover, only the strongest races have colo- 
nized in the past. And, "Qua in terris"? To what coun- 
try can his colonies go except to that undiscovered country 
from whose bourne no traveller returns! 

The Distribution of the negroes among the Northern 
states has been suggested as a solution of the negro prob- 
lem. But migrations have never occurred at the suggestion 
of philanthropists. The unhappy result of the migration of 
the southern negro farm laborers to Kansas some five years 
ago is discouraging to negro emigrants from the South to 
the North West; and the bloody issue of the migration of 
black miners from Alabama to Illinois has been already refer- 
red to. And those who dream the dream of the colonization 
or of the redistribution of the negro must reduce him to 
abject slavery before they can lead him about at their own 
sweet will. 

Christia7iizing the negro is offered hopefully by some as a 
solution of the negro question. But to make this method 
successful it must regenerate the white man as well as the 
negro; and unless it prove more efficacious in the Anglo 
Saxon's dealing with the Black man than in his dealing 
with the Red man and with the Yellow man, his offering it 
to the Black man may not be very reassuring to him. And 
it is perfectly obvious to all who have learned the negro's 
characteristics by actual contact with him that in calculat- 
ing the effect of Christianity on him the patent fact must 
not be lost sight of that in his mind religion and morals are 
severed more than in the Anglo-Saxon's. 

With race antagonism, industrial antagonism and politi- 
cal antagonism to meet, it does not make the case of the ne- 
gro more hopeful that his physical and mental and moral 
fibre have grown weaker since his freedom began. Insanity 
was almost unknown among the negroes in slavery. There 
must be insane asylums in every Southern State now for the 
colored insane and they are crowded with inmates. Small- 
pox and other contagious diseases were practically unknown 
among the negroes as slaves. They are very prevalent now. 
Drunkenness was practically unknown among the negroes 
as slaves. It is very common now. Venereal disease was al- 
most unknown in slavery. The medical men sa}^ that it pre- 
vails among the negroes to a very alarming extent now. 
The sexual impurity of the negro is deplored by all who de- 
sire his uplifting, and most of all by such leaders of his own 
race as Booker Washington, Prof. DuBois, of Atlanta, and 
Prof. Eugene Harris of Fiske University, Nashville, Tenn. 
Prof. Harris' statement as to the Social and Physical condi- 
tion of the Negro is given in the Report for 1 896-' 97 of the 
United States Government's Commissioner of Education, 
Vol. 2, pages 2310-11-12, where he says as follows: "The 


constitutional diseases which are responsible for our unusual 
mortality are aften traceable to sexual immoralities. Ac- 
cording to Hoffman, more than 25 per cent, of the negro 
children born in Washington City are admittedly illegiti- 
mate. In one county in Mississippi there were during 
twelve months 300 marriage licenses taken out in the County 
Clerk's office for white people. In proportion to population 
there should have been 1200 or more for negroes. There 
were actually taken out for colored people just three." This 
is the testimony, prepared by this leader of his race, for the 
Government's Commissioner of Education. As a simple 
matter of fact wrong doing of this sort discounts a negro 
woman very little, the most respectable negro man marry- 
ing a woman with an illegitimate child as readily as any 
other to all appearance. I know a man well who has had 
five negro men in his employment for some years, no one of 
whom was more than ten years of age at the surrender. 
They are all faithful, industrious, respected and self-respect- 
ing men and all of them could vote in Massachusetts, and 
will remain voters in North Carolina whether the suffrage 
amendment passes or not. Four of them have money in the 
bank. The wives of four of these men had illigitimate child- 
ren at marriage, all by black fathers, and there are very few 
exceptions to these conditions, as is admitted by the testi- 
mony of the negro against himself. Nor does it better the 
case that the negro brought this immorality with him from 
Africa, where it is still one of the most distinctive features 
of his savage kindred. That this race characteristic lost 
hold on the negro in slavery is certain. That it has regained 
its former hold on him in freedom is equally certain. Add 
to the low marriage rate and the necessarily low birth rate of 
legitimates the high death rate which is patent everywhere, 
and it is not surprising that, while the negro population in- 
creased nearly 36 per cent, from 1870 to 1880, the increase 
from 1880 to 1890 was only 13 per cent, which is about one 
half the increase among the whites during the same period. 
Such conditions as have only to continue long enough and 
the negro question will settle itself. And the bettering of 
these conditions calls for the best and the most united 
thought and action of both races. 

But the most disquieting thing to the friends of the negro 
is his attitude toward crime and his consequent rapid in- 
crease in criminality. When a white man commits a crime, 
other white men combine to arrest and punish him, and he 
loses character and cast. When a negro commits a crime, 
other negroes combine to prevent his arrest and punishment 
and he becomes a sort of hero and martyr in the eyes of his 

Dr. W. H. Wilcox, a native of Massachusetts, a Professor 
in Cornell University, and at present detailed in Washington 
City as chief statistician of the Census, delivered a striking 
address on Criminality before the American Social Science 
Association, at Saratoga, Sept. 6, '99. Dr. George T. Win- 
ston, born in North Carolina, then President of the Univer- 
sity of Texas, and now President of the N. C. Agricultural 
and Mechanical College, delivered a striking address in De- 
cember, '97, before the National Prison Association, at its 
meeting in Austin, Texas, on the Prevention of Crime. The 
conclusions of these two distinguished gentlemen, differing 
so widely in birth, rearing and environment, are practically 


the same; they are very instructive, and they bear very 
strongly on the negro's chances to survive, now that he 
has been brought into direct competition with the man 
of Anglo-Saxon blood. I quote Dr. Winston's conclu- 
sions chiefly, as he gives the actual percentage more 
fully than Dr. Wilcox does, (i) "The negro element 
is much the most criminal of our population." (2) "The 
negro is much more criminal as a free man than he 
was as a slave." (3) "The negro is increasing in criminal- 
ity with fearful rapidity, being one third more criminal in 
1890 than in 1880." (4) "The negroes who can read and 
write are more criminal than the illiterate, which is true of 
no other element of our population." (5) "The negro is 
nearly three times as criminal in the North East, where he 
has not been a slave for a hundred years, and three and a 
half times as criminal in the North West, where he has 
never been a slave, than in the South where he was a slave 
till 1865." (6) "The negro is three times as criminal as 
the native white and once and a half times as criminal as 
the foreign white, consisting in many cases of the scum of 
Europe." (7) "More than seven tenths of the negro crimi- 
nals are under thirty years of age." 

These conclusions are strikingly verified by Prof. J. R. 
Straton, in the North American Review for June, 1900. Ac- 
cording to the Census of 1890, as quoted by Prof. Straton, 
the minimum illiteracy of the negro, 21 7-10 per cent., is 
found in New England and his maximum illiteracy, 65 7-10 
per cent., is in the so called "black belt," South Carolina, 
Mississippi and Eouisiana. And yet the negro is four and a 
half (4^) times more criminal in New England, hundred 
for hundred, than he is in the " black belt." 

These facts, taken from the United States Census, show 

( 1 ) that the educational method, as it has been applied 
thus far to the negro, lacks adjustment to his needs; and 

(2) that the North East, the North West and the Nation 
have not succeeded as well with the negro since '65 as the 
South did up to '65. 

But the most fateful and fatal thing to be considered in 
the negro problem is the fact that the younger generation 
of negroes, already the most criminal class in our popula- 
tion, the United States Census says, have developed a mania 
— it can hardly be called any thing else — for assaulting 
white women. Those who live a thousand miles from the 
j ungles of India may think that the reports that tigers come 
out from the jungles and devour hundreds of people every 
year are exaggerated. On the testimony of the tiger and 
of his kith and kin they may doubt or deny the facts and 
may express great sympathy for the downtrodden tigers 
when they are slain "flagrante delicto, ' ' or are tracked to their 
lairs and put to death. But those who live in the midst of 
the terrible facts feel a constant dread when the tiger is only 
in his lair, and they shudder when he is abroad with his 
appetite for human blood excited to such fury that he loses 
all sense of the consequences; and it need not be a matter of 
surprise if a very short shrift is allowed to the Indian tiger 
on the banks of the Ganges, or to the African tiger on the 
banks of the Altamaha. And it makes the assaults of the 
African tiger harder for the white man of the South to bear 
when even the women of his own race at the North express 
great sympathy for the death of the African tiger on the 


banks of the Altamaha, but none for their Anglo-Saxon sis- 
ter whom the African tiger has devoured, and when the 
negro editor of a paper in Wilmington, N. C, says that the 
Anglo-Saxon women are in collusion with the African tigers 
that devour them. And as long as the Anglo-Saxon is the 
Anglo-Saxon, this crime has onl> to touch him or his and 
his feeling: is the same wherever God's sun shines on him. 


[This view is strikingly verified by the recent murder of negroes 
in the race riots in New York City, and the more recent hangings 
and burnings of negroes by mobs in Colorado, in Illinois, Presi- 
dent Lincoln's own s'tate, in Indiana, President Harrison's own 
state, in Kansas, and in Ohio, President McKinley's own state, 
the lynchings in Urbana and Akron, Ohio, being attended with 
unusual violence. 

Furthermore, in 1S92 there were lynchings in twenty-seven (27) 
states of the Union, scattered from New York to California on the 
North, and from Vi-ginia to Texas on the South. In 1897 there 
were lynchings in twenty-five (25) states, in all sections of the 

And this assaulting of white women by negroes is 
a new crime. It was almost unheard of in slavery. The 
whole manhood of the South left their women in the 
hands of the negroes and went to the front during the Civil 
War with the feeling that the women were safe in the hands 
of the slaves. And they were safe, although on many plan- 
tations there were a hundred negro men and not a white 
man in a mile. No woman in the whole South was ever 
molested by a negro during the Civil War, nor for a num- 
ber of years after the War. During the Spanish War I ask- 
ed several old Confederates and ex-slave holders in several 
Southern States what the men of the South would do now if 
they were all called upon to repel an invasion which had 
advanced a hundred miles from the coast. Bve^ one said 
it would be impossible to go. "But," I said, "it would be 
impossible not to obey the call of patriotism." "Then we 
would have to take all the adult negro males to the front 
with us and keep them there." "But," I said, "it would 
be impossible to take them all or to keep them all." "Then 
we would kill them all before we started," was the reply in 
every case. Such a contingency can not arise in any human 
probability; but this view of what it would necessitate if it 
should arise shows how the best people in the South and 
the negro's best friends feel about the African tiger who 
comes so often from his lair to devour our women. And in 
dealing with the black man this new factor must be reck- 
oned with. One of the most influential Journals in New 
York * said nothing about the lynching of Sam Hose in 
Georgia for about three weeks ; and then after an investiga- 
tion at first hands, its conclusion was that the same thing 
would have occurred under similar circumstances in any 
state in the Union. And the Editor of one of the most in- 
fluential religious weeklies in the Central West, f who had 
been very severe on the Southern people, went to Georgia 
in person to investigate; and, as reported by Rev. Dr. 
A. J. McKelway in the Presbyterian Standard, in answer to 
a question put to him by a clergyman of the Southern Meth- 
odist Church as to what he would do if a negro were to as- 
sault his wife or his daughter or his sister, he replied 
promptly, "I would kill him if I could," which statement he 

* Harper's Weekly. 

f The Interior, of Chicago. 


modified several days later by saying, "I would try to kill 
him; but my neighbors ought not to let me do it." 

It is entirely in accordance with the negro's fixed atti- 
tude towards crime that in all the deliverances of political 
and religious bodies of negroes, North and South, against 
lynching, I have never seen a word against the crime which 
has produced most of the lynching and which started it all. 
The same is true of deliverances of most organizations of 
white people at the North on the same subject. Great sym- 
pathy is expressed for the black man who pays the penalty 
for the crime; but very little sympathy is expressed, even 
by Northen women, for a white sister whom the African 
tiger has made his victim. All the best people of the South 
are entirely opposed to lynching. In practice it has failed 
as a remedy for the crime, and it has not only brutalized 
those engaged in it, but it has most seriously discounted the 
majesty of the law. It ought to be stopped. It must be 
stopped. But it will not stop till both races, North and 
South, unite in stopping the crime, which is confined almost 
exclusively to the negroes who were born after 1870. 

When we consider that the freed negro must face the race 
antagonism of the man of Anglo Saxon blood, before which 
stronger races have fallen, that he must in addition face in- 
dustrial and political antagonism intensified by his increas- 
ing lawlessness and criminality in all lines, but particularly 
in the special line referred to, which is straining the friend- 
liness of his former friends towards him to the utmost and 
which is hardening the hearts of his racial and industrial 
opponents against him, when w r e consider all these things, 
it is well for the friends of the negro North and South to 
look these conditions squarely in the face if they would save 
him from the fate of the Celt, the Indian, the Frenchman 
and the Spaniard, as already enacted at the hands of our 

And there is another factor which must be reckoned with. 
The negro has nothing to fear from the old slave owning 
class as yet, though the incoming generation have lost 
much of the kindly feeling which their fathers had for 
him. But the feeling of the non-slaveholding class against 
him, never good in the nature of things, is growing worse 
day by day, and a cloud, already "larger than a man's 
hand," has risen above the horizon, from which the 
lightning flashes angrily. To give a concrete illustra- 
tion of this feeling, a negro assaulted a white girl near 
Asheville, N. C, about three years ago and was put to death 
by a mob, composed almost entirely of the ?ion-slaveholding 
class, who turned out in great numbers, battered down the 
doors of the jail in order to get possession of the criminal, 
and overawed the local military company which was under 
arms to prevent violence. 

I was not aware how strong the feeling of the non- 
slaveholding class against the negro is till I command- 
ed them for four years in the Confederate Army, of 
which they formed the rank and file. This race feel- 
ing of the non-slaveholder and his children against the 
negro is held in abeyance «as yet by the attitude of the 
slave-holding class, who have always controlled South- 
ern sentiment. But the feeling is deep and strong, 
though latent and mostly quiescent as yet; it is 


becoming less latent and less quiescent year by year, 
and it seems to be only a question of time when the 
attitude of the white laboring classes towards the ne- 
groes will be in the South what it has already become 
in the North. 

It does not seem likely that any general outbreak or 
race war will occur. But it does seem more than prob- 
able, if the lawlessness of the negro continues to in- 
crease as it has been doing during the last two 
decades, that the non-slaveholding whites, under the 
stimulation of race, industrial and political antagon- 
ism, will take advantage of the fury caused by an as- 
sault of some white woman by a negro to settle their 
accumulated scores against the black man; and when- 
ever and wherever such a thing occurs, the black man 
in that locality will join the Celt and the Indian. 

In studying the Race problem in the South, these 
considerations must be reckoned with by those who 
would protect the negro from the direct competition 
with the man of Anglo-Saxon blood, which the negro's 
being freed has made inevitable. 

But with some things in the negro problem which 
are ominous and with some things which are discour- 
aging, there are at least two considerations which 
are helpful and hopeful. 

(1) The lesser United States of the past has begun 
to be the Greater United States of the future; for the 
young Hercules of the West has aroused himself and 
has begun his labors, and these labors must extend 
through all the signs of the zodiac. In addition to the 
American born African, we have brought under our 
jurisdiction the colored races of our new West India Is- 
lands and of our new Pacific Islands. We have learned 
our lesson in the race question by our failure with the 
African man as a voter; and our mistake with the 
African man is correcting itself, and it will not be 
repeated with the other colored races for whom w T e 
have become responsible. The mistake made with the 
negro did not hurt the Southern white man. We are 
of perhaps the most unmixed Anglo-Saxon blood on 
the Continent. We have stood the strain of the illit- 
erate voter of African blood, and have thriven on it 
politically. But will it ever do to give to the inhabi- 
tants of Spanish American countries, to Asiatics and 
to South Sea Islanders the opportunity to hold the 
balance of power in the Great Republic of the West? 

(2) The Southern negro has this great advantage 
He is here, and he is here to stay. We know him. 
We like him except as a politician and a criminal. We 
need him. The native white laborer and handicrafts- 
man of the South is accustomed to him, and as yet 
works kindly by his side in all forms of activity. He 
is excluded from employment on race grounds nowhere 
in the South. As a peaceful immigrant he has never 


been slain on the borders of any Southern State. And 
while the negro holds the field as a laborer, other la- 
borers come in very slowly from the outside to com- 
pete with him, as the statistics show very clearly. In 
the states of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, 
Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas, as a 
whole the proportion of foreign born inhabitants to 
the native born is only one in one hundred and 
twenty-five, (1 in 125.) In the states of Ohio, Indi- 
ana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, 
Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and 
Kansas as a whole the proportion of foreign born in- 
habitants to the native born is about one in five (1 in 
5.) It thus appears that practically no immigration 
to the South from the outside has occurred, which 
leaves the field clear to the negro if he can hold it. 

We delivered the African man over to the nation in 
1865 orderly, fairly industrious, without vices, without 
disease, without crime. In the hands of the nation he 
has become disorderly, idle, vicious, diseased; three 
times more criminal than the native white and one 
and a half times more criminal than the foreign white 
consisting largely of the scum of Europe; he was one 
third more criminal in 1890 than in 1880; and his 
maximum criminality and his minimum illiteracy 
concur in New England, according to the United States 

But if he goes out of politics entirely, so as to cease 
to antagonize his tried friends, and so as to cease to 
feel that some mysterious power in Washington will 
support him in idleness and protect him in crime; and 
if in this frame of mind he cultivates the friendship of 
those among whom he lives more kindly (except as a 
politician and as a criminal) than any where else in 
the United States, and with less competition than he 
would find any where else on the face of the earth, 
under these conditions he may become fit by degrees 
for full citizenship under the same educational and 
property qualifications required for white men in 
New England, and for brown men and yellow men in 
Hawaii. And when by intelligence and sobriety 
the African man has won without blood the boon 
which the Anglo-Saxon has taken centuries of moil 
and toil and blood to be prepared for, the right of suf- 
frage should be made as inalienable to the black man 
as to the white man; fur the white man cannot afford 
not to share his good things with the brother in black 
who lives on the same soil and is protected by the same 
flag. "There is that scattereth and yet increas- 
eth; and there is that withholdeth more than is me&t 
and it tendeth to poverty." 

But if the New Race Question is to be met success- 
fully, it must be met by a united New North, New 
ki _*L +* .South, New East, and New West. 

Ciorth .Carolina Stetoj Library 






GC 301.451 B613e 

Bingham, Robert, 1838-1927. 

An ex-slaveholders view of the Negro que 

3 3091 00223 2684 





Syracuse, N. Y. 
Stockton, Calif. 


301 -if 51 


An ex- slaveholders view of the Negro 
question in the South